‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Set Tour Reveals Details Of Bridge, Characters, Story And More

Some media were invited to the set of Star Trek: Discovery in August and have started releasing reports and videos. We have gathered some highlights from the first set to be released which reveal a closer look at the USS Discovery bridge, the cast talking about their characters, more story and character details from the showrunners and a few more little bits of info.

Video tour of the USS Discovery bridge

TV Guide (which is owned by CBS) released this video tour of the bridge of the USS Discovery. The narrator may not be fully briefed on what he is showing, but you can get a good look at the set.

Cast talk about their characters

CNET (also owned by CBS) has just released this video interview compilation with the cast talking about their characters.

How the war will be fought and end

Much has been discussed about how the backdrop of the first season of Discovery will focus on a war between the Klingons and the Federation. However, a consistent theme from reports from the set tour is that this show doesn’t revel in war and this is reflected in the characters. Such as this passage from the IGN report:

“These Starfleet officers who find themselves in war are very quick to remind the audience that they didn’t sign up to do that,” says Harberts. “That they are explorers first, that they are diplomats first. So our officers are quick to comment on the fact that this is not Starfleet’s mission. War is not why we’re here. And in fact, Discovery is a science vessel that has been conscripted for the war effort.”

Of course once you introduce a war story, you have to have a way of resolving it. Harberts went on to discuss finding the “Star Trek way”…

“…How do you end a war, how do you find peace, without crushing and annihilating your opponent? And to me, that’s the Star Trek way of doing a war story. It’s not the Federation annihilates the Klingons. It’s Starfleet and the Federation figure out a way to truly make peace. Now we know that when TOS picks up, that peace doesn’t last. But we have to find peace in our time, in our slice of the Star Trek pie. That’s a really important thing to us, and we’re going to offer up a way that these two warring factions come to an understanding.”

And Harberts added on to what Alex Kurtzman recently said, noting that the war will get wrapped up by the end of the first season (via CNET):

“We want to put to bed the Klingon-Federation war,” Harberts said.

 

Dealing with canon and ‘Enterprise’

Of course we have heard a lot about how the show respects canon, but the people behind the show know that the introduction of things such as the changes in the Klingons or giving Spock an adopted sister raise some eyebrows. But they are promising these things will be resolved (CNET):

Harberts promises to answer why you’ve never heard of Burnham or the Discovery before, but he declines to elaborate.

The people behind the show promise the different look will somehow fit in with Star Trek’s established canon, which, admittedly, is already pretty inconsistent when it comes to Klingons….”It’s not arbitrary,” says Chieffo, who enjoys the hairless look. “So much can happen in 10 years.”

Harberts also talked specifically about how the show Star Trek: Enterprise creates some special challenges with regards to canon (IGN):

I find that Enterprise actually has made things the most limiting, because of some of the retconning that they did in certain ways. And we consider Enterprise canon as well in certain ways, and just as valid, and we’re always trying to kind of make sure that that’s taken into consideration. So I think the most limiting thing is just trying to tell stories that don’t screw up, or screw with anything, that fans are going to be looking out for.”

 

More character details

On T’Kuvma (CNET):

Here’s how Harberts describes Klingon leader and chief antagonist T’Kuvma: He comes to power under the creed “Remain Klingon,” promotes isolationism and rails against the Federation because its multicultural approach will erase what makes Klingons, Klingons. Mary Chieffo, who plays T’Kuvma’s battle deck commander, L’Rell, describes the Klingon leader as someone who does a lot of talking.

On L’Rell (CNET):

While T’Kuvma does a lot of the talking, Chieffo said L’Rell pulls a lot of the strings in the background, noting that the family on her mother’s side specializes in deception and working in the shadows

On Michael Burnham (TV Guide)

Burnham’s main area of operation is engineering, and a good chunk of the show will be spent in the below-deck room…Engineering is important as a focal point of Burnham’s life and career, but there’s also a — you guessed it — mysterious reason for the room, all focused around a series of canisters embedded in the wall. Harberts paraphrased a line from Lorca, saying, “we’re coming up with a new way to fly” — and these canisters, and what the engineering team is working on, are a key part of the plot…And in engineering itself is something called “the reaction cube,” which plays a big part in the first season of the show, and provides “a lot of different types of reactions,” Harberts said, vaguely. 

On Lt. Stamets and Dr. Culbert (TV Guide)

For Discovery, that means treating Culbert and Stamets like any other couple. Harberts noted during a tour of the set (and the couple’s bedroom) that they’ll spend a lot of time “downloading” while brushing their teeth at the end of the day, or just spending time together and figuring out their own relationship drama. After over five decades of LGBT fans begging the various showrunners and producers to add characters who represent them, it almost feels like Discovery should be making a bigger deal out of “the Stamets family,” as Harberts refers to them. But like Nichols and Takei before them, the big deal is how not a big deal it is onscreen.

More tidbits from the tour

Here are a few more random observations from the various reports:

  • Lorca prefers to walk around instead of sitting in the captain’s chair and uses a standing desk in his office
  • Battle map of Klingon War in Lorca’s office gets updated each episode
  • Many of the buttons on the set actually work like one that pops up little screen on Discovery captain’s chair
  • “Hologram pedastals” in place of viewscreen conversations
  • Tilly is said to have “strange sleeping habits”
  • Communicators use an iPod nano behind the central screen

 

For more see reports from TVGuide set visit and ’23 secrets’ report, CNET set visit and interviews, and IGN’s set visit report

Star Trek: Discovery premieres on September 24th on CBS with all subsequent episodes on CBS All Access in the US.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere  on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel on the same night. Netflix will launch Star Trek: Discovery on Monday, September 25 to countries outside of the U.S. and Canada.

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Re: Lora preferring to walk around than sit … I really hope he doesn’t turn into a Scott Bakula, weearing grooves into the deck plating every time he delivers a speech …

I still think, they’re using the mushrooms (spice) to fly…moreso now.

Yes it is strongly implied. We’ll have a little more about that in an upcoming article about the Starfleet characters of DSC.

““These Starfleet officers who find themselves in war are very quick to remind the audience that they didn’t sign up to do that,” says Harberts. “That they are explorers first, that they are diplomats first. So our officers are quick to comment on the fact that this is not Starfleet’s mission. War is not why we’re here. And in fact, Discovery is a science vessel that has been conscripted for the war effort.”

And maybe some wouldn’t be very happy with the idea of being conscripted into a war. Much as I appreciated DS9’s Dominion War arc, I always thought this would have been a great source of drama, and was sorry the producers didn’t go for it.

As much as I love DS9 as one of my all-time favorite of the Trek series, you make a point that I never really thought of at that time. Although they had skirmishes with Klingons and the ongoing issues here and there, and although they were a station mixed with the quick-to-temper Bajorans, there should have been more push back against the war. They fell into it as if they were a station of MACOs.

Ira Steven Behr said he wanted to push the envelope. Well, in that case why not really push it and do Vietnam or Korea instead of World War II?

Still, make no mistake, DS9 did good. I hope Discovery does better.

I always felt Enterprise did a good job of telling a story of conflict in the way they described Discovery. During the Xindi conflict I remember Archer giving that speech where he says, “We were explorers then. Promise me you’ll get back to that.” And they ended the Xindi conflict with Archer making peace with with them. Well except for maybe the Reptillians.

Interesting you bought that up since Beyond actually went the opposite way of that and you had people like Krall who couldn’t get past the fact there was no more war and that the Xindi threat proved to him ultimately Starfleet should be beefing up for more war and isolation, not breaking bread with everybody and just being explorers again when it was over.

He and Admiral Marcus would’ve got along well. ;)

I always interpreted DS9 personal as being less “naive” about what their role entailed. Their position on the edge of Federation space meant they were often alone and away from much of the comforts most Federation citizens enjoyed. As a result they understood that not everyone was going to like them and that sometimes those differences can escalate to all out conflict. This lead to them being at a constant state of readiness where they had to be ready to defend themselves and their beliefs at a moments notice. The Bajoran people also understood what it meant to fight and to even die for what they believed in so I can completely believe that by the time the Federation went to war with the Dominion they knew what side they were on.

To be fair though, Archer got…um…pretty dark there while they were hunting the Xindi

That is true….I just feel that DS9 was better at exploring the idea of what would someone be willing to do in a time of conflict to protect what you believe in. Or in some cases what aren’t you willing to do. What’s the line in the sand? Enterprise kind of tip-toed around that while DS9 plowed right into it with my favorite Star Trek episode of all time “In the Pale Moonlight.”

For those of you who didn’t understand the TV Guide tour of the bridge, here’s a transscription:

“Over here is some sort of glowy thing! And this is a big MAP (I think)! Whoo-hoo! And this is a kind of CHAIR!!! And I’m actually standing on a FLOOR!!! WOW!!!!”

@Jeff,

LOL

Don’t get the stand alone clear panels on the bridges these days. Why?? I can’t imagine trying to work and operate those screens with all the other screens blinking and changing behind it, along with people walking around, moving past the screens, constant changes in lights and darks…no thank you. They add nothing. Wish someone would get rid of them.

I tend to agree, just more cluttering-up of a clean circular space whose simple, efficient layout was a big part of its charm. That said, didn’t you like those standalone glass panels in the Abrams films? I don’t recall your having a problem with them, then.

Never liked them. They’re just in the way. And I like the JJ bridge, especially the marriage of switches and buttons and touch controls. But the stand up panels are pointless…they add nothing aesthetically, they are in the way, obstruct the view and are not practical in the least.

I think it’s supposed to be like those standing military strategy displays you often see (can’t think of what they’re called), but those seem to be for group use, not an individual.

Trekyards (youtuve) noted that in Orville the clear displays are at least blurred/frosted when viewing from behind so at least you have privacy for what you’re viewing.

I see them more as digital white boards vs non-touch screen panels that may be at someone’s station. They could be added due to the war too. It’s hard to say. I love the tech though. Beautiful to look at.

That, my friend, is because you are probably of an older generation… No disrespect intended so am I. Younger people like having everything happening at once. Also the clear panels act as a sort of HUD, where the officer can look at the data AND through it at the same time…

I find it interesting that they’re transparent *and* animated. Wonder if it’s done via rear-projection or an actual OLED display? There have been a few prototype ‘transparent monitors’ out there that use that technology. Planar Displays, who make commercial displays for signage, have a page about it. http://www.planar.com/innovations/transparent-oled/

“He comes to power under the creed “Remain Klingon,” promotes isolationism and rails against the Federation because its multicultural approach will erase what makes Klingons, Klingons.”

Uh oh! This pretty much sounds like they are going to beat us over the head with their “allegory”. What’s next, the Klingon battle cry is MQGA? (Make QonoS Great Again)

And do these people realize isolationism is the opposite of the militaristic interventionism – humanitarian or otherwise – that neocons and neoliberals alike have promoted and waged wars for in recent years? There is absolutely nothing wrong with non-interference, peaceful co-existence and abstaining from foreign entanglements.

Starfleet’s Prime Directive itself is a doctrine of non-interventionism and Vulcans, founding members of the Federation no less, are arguably a naturally isolationist species, certainly very defensive of protecting their culture from outsiders (see: Enterprise).

So let’s see if this show is really bringing any new and valuable insights to the culture wars or if it’s just trodding out tired old tropes for the echo chamber…

What makes you think the producers won’t handle those issues with the kind of nuance you just suggested? I sure hope that they do.

Their entire marketing campaign. This wasn’t an invitation to all sides (to use an over-used phrase these days!) to join a great intellectual conversation of the benefits and weaknesses of various philosophies, just preaching to a very particular choir I suppose. You certainly don’t unify a divided society like that, not even in entertainment. There’s all sorts of weasel talk about not wanting to antagonize the antagonist too much (a contradiction in itself), but seriously, do we not expect the “Federation” to educate the “Klingons” about the error of their ways in the end, to see a full scale victory of The Right (TM) over the The Wrong (TM)? Same as a self-important Archer taught those nasty “Vulcans” a thing or two about “superior human values”, so not much has changed since the early 2000s at least, but in fact in the 1990s TNG was a lot more relativist and self-critical than this one-sided on-screen conversation! That said, I’d certainly be delighted to be proven wrong by this new series, just based on the available evidence, I certainly do not expect it.

Well (and I’m not defending DSC, not having seen it), I just don’t see where you’re getting the information to make that judgement in advance at all. As for the Federation “lecturing” the Klingons in the end, that’s certainly what I would expect from TOS. With the benefit of 51 years in the advancement of storytelling, I sure expect more from DSC.

(Absolutely do agree with you, though, on the offensiveness of ENT’s 22nd Century humans having to teach Vulcans how to be properly Vulcan. Man, I freaking hated that.)

We haven’t seen/heard much about Terry Serpico’s Admiral Anderson, yet. We don’t have a full view. I think there is a lot of room left to express the point what you’re suggesting, Vulcan Soul, in spite of the marketing so far.

Before I start, let me begin by saying I have a hard time detecting sarcasm just by reading a comment so if that’s what your comment was about, disregard this. Otherwise…stop over-reacting. Star Trek has always done this, back then the real world was just too comfortable for people who didn’t want to deal with the real issues. Trek has touched on transgender rights, racial justice, the politics of war, power-hungry political leaders, organized religion, slavery, terrorism and so much more. The difference is that then lgbt community was still not widely accepted, transgender was not an open issue as it is now, the mood of the country was a different one. Things change, issues come to a head and shows deal with them. It has nothing to do with “the SJW agenda” but everything to do with people not being able to deal with reality. Vulcans are far from isolationists when they were monitoring cultures who were developing the ability to travel at warp speed. Vulcans weren’t isolationists when they decided to help guide humanity into a new space age -no matter how stiff and rigid as they may have been. Just let Discovery do what Trek has always done, tell stories that mirrored the world we live in.

You are overreaching yourself actually, as I didn’t refer to half of the things in your comment. I was pointing out specifically the contradiction between vilified (peaceful) isolationism or non-interventionism (which is a less extreme version of the former) vs. the dire effects of even well-meant interventionism since the turn of the century. And THAT is the world we live in that a show with such aspirations should mirror, not repeat stock phrases about boogeymen from the echo chamber. We need new answers, not sheepish adherence to patently failed domestic and foreign policies.

Difficult topic to discuss….I will say this ….to take a race like the Klingons and turn them into an alllegory for racists isolationist behavior may trouble Star Trek fans who love the Klingon race and abhor those kinds of belief systems. Then again Klignons had been an allegory for the Russians so…..Racism and isolationism are definitely topics worth talking about but be careful about missing the people you most want to get to with certain storylines. I am specifically referencing the idea that they want to send the message that racism and isolationism is wrong….I agree but I am not their target audience with that. I am assuming the isolation is wrong perspective based on the fact that the Klignons will eventually end that practice and sign peace treaties with the Federation. As well as fighting on the same side as them in the Federation Dominion war. As for racism, it’s always wrong. If they want to reach a specific group, for example, is this storyline really going to get to them? Or are they going to tune out and there only audience will be people who already know these kinds of practices are wrong? There best bet is to show all points of view so that differing sides can come together through discussion and hopefully be more united and less divided and so far the marketing campaigns don’t admittedly do that mentality justice. It seems more like they are trying to be too overt and less allegorical. A mentality… Read more »

Other tidbits:

1- There will be bottle episodes: “We will do two or three, primarily what you would call bottle episodes,” Harberts said

2- Items in Captain Georgiou’s ready room: Malaysian puppets and .. bottle of Picard wine!

3- Harberts talking about the war: “We’re really trying to make sure that people understand it’s a grim prospect. As Georgiou says in the pilot, ‘wars are screams and funerals.'”

All of that sounds pretty good to me.

‘Picard wine’

Nice touch! :) This is what I can’t wait for, all the little Easter eggs you will find from the other shows even if they are subtle.

Absolutely agreed. Those to me are integral to Trek, respecting what has come before.

I still love that shot on the Shenzhou coming up from the glass to focus on Burnham. It’s like a reverse version of The Cage intro coming in from the top of the Enterprise dome.

Yeah, it’s a lovely shot that would have been considered amazing just a few years ago, but which us jaded types now take for granted, alas. Since the HUD bridge/window was one of the few things I liked about the J.J.-verse, I’ll take it.

Always loved the HUD screen/window from the Kelvin films too. Since seeing the tactical display in Trek2, I always wondered why starships didn’t just have a HUD type display.

Looks awesome. I have a good feeling about this. Also, hooray for the gays!!!! It’s 2017, and after 50 years of this show, I’m glad to see us LGBT people in the future.

I love the fact no one has made a big deal about it here which means people are caring less and less. Remember when people learned Sulu wuold be gay? OMG. I know its a little different because people objected to a straight character becoming gay but it gives me hope that people won’t care that much about a fully realized gay relationship, which was clearly lacking in Beyond.

So far. I remember when Phase2 released their production Blood & Fire and man were there some hateful comments here about the gay subject in the story/episode. I’m hoping that the first time there’s a kiss between Stamets and his other half that we don’t have any ignorant comments from Trek fans. If I can sit through Data and Yar, Riker and Troi, Geordi and whichever holo-girl of the week, Tom and Belana, and much more – this shouldn’t be a reason to get anyone up in arms.

Its so sad to me we have to even worry about this from TREK fans!!! I ‘thought’ we were above all of this a long time ago but as so much as proved lately, especially with the ‘diversity’ debate over Discovery and yes the issue with Sulu, obviously we’re not.

What’s funny is it was Star Trek that made me more open minded about basically everything. I’m a black guy who was raised in the hood and I celebrate ALL diversity. Thats the way it should be because people are people and everyone is just different. If you want to be accepted for being you, then you have to have the same view of everyone else.*

*Just stepped off the soap box. ;)

Good for you, Luke. Happy for you and long overdue. Ironic thing is, for such an historically diverse and culturally groundbreaking franchise, Star Trek is coming in pretty late in the game with this, because there WAS no Trek during the years LGBT became mainstream on TV. Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and countless other shows have featured LGBT characters for years. I don’t see any reason this should be a ‘thing’ anymore, anywhere.

YEs, thats what is crazy, how far back Trek is now behind on this issue. To be fair, I guess if there was another show after Enterprise, eventually a gay character would’ve appeared at some point. But it is odd because with the exception of maybe 1 or 2 shows, every show I watch these days has gay characters now and most are fully realized relationships, meaning we see them date, have sex, etc. I just started watching Ozark on Netflix (another great show) and that has gay characters in it, and the show takes place in the sticks.

This is not a ‘thing’ at all anymore and yet its funny to listen to some Trek fans out of all people have an issue with this, as if they don’t watch shows that has plenty of gay characters today.

I wonder though if these kinds of characters and relationships isn’t for people like you and me that are okay with it. Whether we like it or not there are people who will tune out of shows where gay characters exist. They “feel” it’s too preachy. Hopefully this show will help them see otherwise with it’s apparent emphasis on portraying the relationship as a normal part of Staments and Culber’s professional and personal lives. That way for them it “feels less preachy” and more acceptable. And as result they learn something in the process.

Its nice to see they didn’t go all low tech TOS and added big buttons everywhere lol. I know the purists are going to hate this but it looks like they do have some areas with actual buttons but clearly they are just a back up for those big cool touch screen panels. It still amazes me it was TNG who came up with that look over 30 years ago and now we have phones and tablets simulating just that.

Enlisted men/women, OCS for officers, military ranks, military weapons, heavily armed ships…. sure sounds like a military to me? The writers can stuff all the one-liners they want about how Starfleet isn’t “military”, but it rings quite hollow next to quantum torpedo’s, multi-phasic shields, tri-cobalt explosives, pulsed phasers canon’s, etc.

And if Starfleet isn’t armed to the teeth to defend the Federation, then what’s all that hardware for? Gaseous anomalies? Planetary survey’s?

The writers need to give it a rest. We know Starfleet’s PRIMARY mission isn’t war. It’s exploration. But any intergalactic union that would exist is almost assuredly going to have to defend it’s borders from time to time. And guess who/what does that?

Honestly to this day I don’t get why Starfleet doesn’t have a military branch??? Yeah we get it, ‘exploration’, but when the Borg, Dominion or Romulans shows up at your door ready to pick a fight, who is doing all the fighting? The explorers? It makes NO sense. We obviously know all these people are trained for combat, so technically they do have military training. What is wrong with just having a military? I’m a pinko bleeding heart liberal and even I can understand everyone needs a standing army in case things go sideways. And in Star Trek things go sideways ALL the time.

If Wolf 359 didn’t tell them they need a militaristic approach to dealing with their enemies then nothing will. That was the one great thing about Enterprise, we know there was still a military defense force in the form of the MACOs but even then they should’ve had their own ships and finding ways to detect and defend Earth from all the dangers and maybe a probe wouldn’t been able to just show up and wipe out 7 million people in a few seconds.

I too am confused by this “idea” of them not being a military organization on any level and their “opposition” to being “conscripted.” Last time I checked Starfleet was all volunteer organization. To say nothing of the fact that there have been threats to Starfleet even by Discovery’s time. The Earth-Romulan war etc. Surely they have received classes on the history of Starfleet, which include but aren’t limited to, prior conflicts, survival techniques and even basic defensive tactics. What did they think the purpose of that training was? Let’s receive it but never hope to use it? Have someone else fight our battles for us because we are scientist not warriors? Look I am sure most of go about are lives with peaceful intentions unfortunately sometimes those intentions go astray and we have to be willing to defend ourselves and the causes we hold dear. Let’s hope they realize that sometimes you have to defend the “paradise” you hold so dear.

On a side note I am also not certain how much peace can really be achieved we when all know that it continues to be a problem on TOS. Maybe they don’t consider a Cold War to be that big of a deal. I disagree but we shall see where the storyline line actually takes us.

I always took Starfleet as the ultimate melding of NASA and the U.S. Navy. The MACOs were the Marines. The Cage is a perfect example of this. They’re explorers but they’re obviously a military core in the structure and the way they handle situations. Nick Meyer presented this very well. I never felt his depiction of Starfleet officers was that they weren’t explorers AND a military might. Maybe that’s why I love Treks 2 and 6 the most.

My problem with the MACOs is there is not enough of them. They were always treated like a special forces unit. Good for precision strikes but when two ships start fighting one another how much of an impact can they really make? At the end of the day you are still going to need everybody on the ship capable of grabbing a phaser and manning a post. So to speak. Hence the need for the military core of Starfleet.

I wonder if there will be any characters that feel this way. I suspect Lorca might with his military background. I have also heard Tyler being referred to as a soldier. Not sure about any of the female characters though.

So you dont like that its Star Trek?

I’m really excited! There’s a reason we never heard from the Discovery? There is a reaction cube and a lot of “reactions”? “We are coming up with a new way to fly”? Something tells me, we won’t stay in this time period forever!

@TrekTobi,

“There’s a reason we never heard from the Discovery?”

They were deleted from the timeline!

Could possibly be the case.

“The people behind the show promise the different look will somehow fit in with Star Trek’s established canon, which, admittedly, is already pretty inconsistent when it comes to Klingons….”It’s not arbitrary,” says Chieffo, who enjoys the hairless look. “So much can happen in 10 years.””

This is music to me ears. I can handle the change in Klingons so long as we get an in universe explanation. One line is all I need.

Those Abrams-esque transparent screens, tho…

That has nothing to do with ‘Abrams’ thats what you find in basically a lot of sci fi shows and films that takes place in future space. I watch The Expanse, it has the same kind of thing. Its just become a generic direction of user interface in sci fi. Abrams didn’t do anything countless others were already doing. You have to think today’s technology for that and trying to look a little bit more ahead of it.

The glarey hard to read graphic look is ALL on Abrams’ designer Chambliss — look at MISSION TO MARS using a similar tech, from the very solid production designer Ed Verreaux, and see it doesn’t have tons of hard to read reflections in it. Chambliss actually told me that he hadn’t seen reflections in what he called ‘sci-fi’ movies and that is why he chose to go this route. SERIOUSLY! I’m guessing that means he never saw even an ad for 2001, since you have infinity reflected in Bowman’s helmet, or 2010, or TMP for that matter (TMP has, in addition to all the stuff on Spock’s faceplate, the really adroit use of naturally-occurring reflection with the sliding doors in Kirk’s quarters, which showed more than a modicum of both taste and creativity.)

So to create visual interest on the 09, Abrams actually sought out this visual confusion, which when combined with the virulent lens flareitis of Abrams, creates a visually contaminated godawful looking movie (at least that aspect matches down to the writing) that a bunch of folks like Seth Rogan — his partner and his DP told me Rogan wanted the TREK flares all over THIS IS THE END — jumped on like it was a new style instead of bad design.

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